FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Chris Hayden stood hands on hips, chest out and proud, front and centre of the Rosella Park School's new multi sensory room yesterday.
Chris has Down Syndrome, and is one of many children with special needs at the school who will benefit from the sensory room which was constructed from funds raised by The Observer's Legends of Origin event.
About $40,000 and 20 months since the rugby league match, the sensory room was officially opened yesterday by The Observer's general manager, Peter White.
Stepping into the room, the first thing one noticed was a snow-capped mountain taking up nearly half a wall on a projection screen. The room was lit up with decorations and coloured lights scattered around the room that caught the children's attention and immediately they fell quiet.
As the kids moved around the room touching switches, displays lit up the children's work and they became excited.
Chris led a music lesson by choosing Vikings on the screen who ran forward to make a noise.
A tune built up and the kids danced along.
"The drums ? I really, really like the technology,'' Chris said.
"It's really great in that sensory room.''
Jill and Bruce Marold who care for Dean, a profoundly autistic 18-year-old, were amazed by the room's effect on the children.
"Dean's out of his shell in this room,'' Mrs Marold said. "He's interacting with everything.
"It takes a lot to bring this out. I can see some new ideas I can take home already. "He's come a long way but he's still learning. I've been waiting for this. Dean couldn't hold anything before.
"Now, he's learning switches around the kitchen because of this ... it means so much to the children.